Friday, March 31, 2006

The least of these


Anonymous said...

I don't quite know how to respond to your post. From your title i get that you don't think that the adjective "Christian" should be used of Mr. Loney. You then post an article that explains Mr. Loney's sexual orientation. Now, to be sure, I have biblical issues with homosexuality, as well as with Mr. Loney's politics, but I do note that the article tells that he and his partner are involved in a ministry that feeds and shelters 60 of Toronto's homeless each day. The words of Jesus come to mind

"I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me...I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

Isn't it only decent in this case to reserve judgement, or better yet, to leave it with Jesus? If Matthew 25 is the test (or even a test)it seems to me that Mr. Loney might be doing alright



i) Even if your interpretation of Mt 25 were roughly correct, the parable of the sheep and the goats is not the whole of the gospel. We have to take the entirely of the NT into account.

So even if charity were a necessary condition of salvation, it is hardly a sufficient condition.

ii) We do nominal Christians no favor by failing to warn them. To leave them in their self-delusion is heartless.

iii) It is clear from Scripture that sodomy is a damnable sin. You can be saved from the sin of sodomy, but you cannot be a Christian homosexual. You must repent of your sin and turn from your sin. You must leave that lifestyle, and you must undergo a change of heart, even if you continue to struggle with the particular sin. A recovering homosexual, a former homosexual, but not an active homosexual or someone who is still consumed by homosexual lust.

All Christians will struggle with sexual temptation, but that’s different from living in sin or living for sin.

iv) I’d hasten to add that sodomy is no more (or less) damnable than any other sin. It isn’t any one particular sin that damns a man to hell, but an unregenerate heart.

To be saved you must exercise penitent faith in Christ. And if you truly love him, you must keep his commandments.

v) Finally, your appeal to Mt 25 flounders on a fundamental misinterpretation. As a couple of commentators have explained:

“Until fairly recently it was generally assumed that this passage grounded eternal salvation on works of kindness to all in need, and that therefore its message was a sort of humanitarian ethic, with no specifically Christian content. As such, it was an embarrassment to those who based their understanding of the gospel on Paul’s teaching that one is justified by fait in Christ and not by ‘good works.” Was Matthew (or Jesus?) then against Paul?

More recent commentators have insisted, however, that such an interpretation does not do justice to the description of those in need as Jesus’ ‘brothers,’ nor to the use elsewhere in Matthew of language about ‘these little ones’ (see below, on v40). It is not kindness to the needy in general, but the response of the nations to ‘disciples’ in need. The passage is sometimes described as an expansion on the them of 10:40-42, where the gift of a cup of water is specifically ‘because he is a disciple,’ so that ‘he who receives you receives me’ Opinions vary as to whether Jesus had in mind specifically Christian ‘missionaries’ (as the context in ch. 10 suggests), or pastors and teachers, or some other special group within the number of disciples (those insignificant ones who are ‘greatest in the kingdom of heave,’ 18:3-4). But on any of these views the criterion of judgment becomes no mere philanthropy, but men’s response to the kingdom of heaven as it is presented to them in the person of Jesus’ ‘brothers.’ It is, therefore, as in 7:21-23, ultimately a question of their relationship to Jesus himself,” R. T. France, Matthew (IVP 1985), 355.

The minority view throughout church history, which is probably a majority view today, especially in churches with a healthy social ethics, is that these ‘brothers’ are any needy people in the world. Thus the passage becomes a strong call to demonstrate ‘fruit in keeping with repentance’ (3:8). Though on need not see any works-righteousness ethic present, many have read the text precisely that way. Yet while there is amble teaching in many parts of Scripture on the need to help all the poor of the world (most notably in Amos, Micah, Luke, and James), it is highly unlikely that this is Jesus’ point here.

Rather, his thought will closely parallel that of 10:42. The sheep are people whose works demonstrate that they have responded property to Christ’s messengers and therefore to his message, however humble the situation or actions of those involved. The itinerant Christian missionaries regularly suffered in these ways and were in frequent need of such help is classically illustrated with the example of Paul (see esp. 2 Cor 11:23-27) and the teaching of the Didache (ca. AD 95)," Craig Blomberg, Matthew (Broadman 1992), 378.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post. I thought the interpretation of Matthew 25 was spot on.

    I've linked this post here.